My mom, with the urging of the Navy, moved to Whidbey Island in 1978 and although it has been considered a few times over the years, she has never moved away. But if you were to ask her where her home was, she would immediately reply with Wisconsin.
Home, to her, is with her mom and dad, her sister and brother, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins that accompanied her through her childhood. Home is a place she visits once a year or every couple of years. Home is a town in the midwest, even if the actual house has changed once or twice.
Whidbey Island is the place the Navy sent her 32 years ago.
My home is with Paul and the kids. It's not a house or a town, but a place in my heart where I hold us all together--a place to fill with love, comfort and security. It's where I belong, I have learned.
But today, I realized that home can be more than one place. In a way, I still consider Whidbey Island to be my home, as well. The Island is a part of me; salt water runs through my veins, and I retain my Islander characteristics, both good and bad. My family is on the Island. The houses that I grew up in are on the Island. It is, perhaps, the only place in the world with which I am thoroughly familiar and comfortable.
And now to let the cat out of the bag. Next June, after Lindsey graduates from highschool, she and my parents will pack up the house that we have lived in for 12 years, leave their church and our community, and head south to Arizona. Instead of a three hour drive away, they will be a three hour flight away.
When I first heard this news almost a year ago, I was more than excited for them. Despite its charm, Whidbey Island can sometimes be a dead end and I was glad for the opportunities that they would experience in another state. Paul's family had already gathered me in as one of their own, so I knew I would be okay here.
But today, Tiffany mentioned something that gave me pause--she couldn't imagine her family living anywhere but San Angelo.
Are my family and the Island separate from each other, or do they complement each other? Collectively, do they make up what I consider to be one of my homes? When I visit my parents in Arizona, will it feel like the home I used to know?
What will happen when they move out of state, and I'm here, and Sarah is on the Island? Will the time between visits lengthen as the years go by? Will we end up like my dad and his brothers, grown completely out of touch by distance and a lack of commonality? Or like my mom's? Children growing up without their grandparents, without aunts and uncles and all the things I never knew I had missed until I gained them through in-laws?
Families break away from each other through the course of life. It's a natural evolution. But the main core usually stays in tact. There is usually a place to return to--a familiar home with cluster of relatives.
Will we still have that?
I'm still okay with this move. I still think it's a great opportunity.
But today I am homesick, and I wonder where that home really is.